What have humans ever achieved? Have they achieved anything else than war? Oh yes, they did. They managed to create an Event where People from all over the globe met in peaceful competition. They were called the Olympic Games.
The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (French: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games are considered the world’s foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. The Olympic Games are held every four years, with the Summer and Winter Games alternating by occurring every four years but two years apart.
Their creation was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. The IOC is the governing body of the Olympic Movement, with the Olympic Charter defining its structure and authority.
The evolution of the Olympic Movement during the 20th and 21st centuries has resulted in several changes to the Olympic Games. Some of these adjustments include the creation of the Winter Olympic Games for ice and winter sports, the Paralympic Games for athletes with a disability, and the Youth Olympic Games for teenage athletes. The Deaflympics and Special Olympics are also endorsed by the IOC. The IOC has had to adapt to a variety of economic, political, and technological advancements.
The advent of the state-sponsored “full-time amateur athlete” of the Eastern Bloc countries further eroded the ideology of the pure amateur, as it put the self-financed amateurs of the Western countries at a disadvantage. The Soviet Union entered teams of athletes who were all nominally students, soldiers, or working in a profession, but many of whom were in reality paid by the state to train on a full-time basis. As a result, the Olympics has shifted away from pure amateurism, as envisioned by Coubertin, to allowing participation of professional athletes. The growing importance of mass media created the issue of corporate sponsorship and commercialisation of the Games. World wars led to the cancellation of the 1916, 1940, and 1944 Games. Large boycotts during the Cold War limited participation in the 1980 and 1984 Games. The latter, however, attracted 140 National Olympic Committees, which was a record at the time.
The Olympic Movement consists of international sports federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs), and organising committees for each specific Olympic Games. As the decision-making body, the IOC is responsible for choosing the host city for each Games, and organises and funds the Games according to the Olympic Charter. The IOC also determines the Olympic programme, consisting of the sports to be contested at the Games. There are several Olympic rituals and symbols, such as the Olympic flag and torch, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Over 13,000 athletes compete at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games in 33 different sports and nearly 400 events. The first, second, and third-place finishers in each event receive Olympic medals: gold, silver, and bronze, respectively.
The Games have grown so much that nearly every nation is now represented. This growth has created numerous challenges and controversies, including boycotts, doping, bribery, and a terrorist attack in 1972. Every two years the Olympics and its media exposure provide unknown athletes with the chance to attain national and sometimes international fame. The Games also constitute an opportunity for the host city and country to showcase themselves to the world.
The Ancient Olympic Games were religious and athletic festivals held every four years at the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. Competition was among representatives of several city-states and kingdoms of Ancient Greece. These Games featured mainly athletic but also combat sports such as wrestling and the pankration, horse and chariot racing events. It has been widely written that during the Games, all conflicts among the participating city-states were postponed until the Games were finished. This cessation of hostilities was known as the Olympic peace or truce. This idea is a modern myth because the Greeks never suspended their wars. The truce did allow those religious pilgrims who were travelling to Olympia to pass through warring territories unmolested because they were protected by Zeus. The origin of the Olympics is shrouded in mystery and legend; one of the most popular myths identifies Heracles and his father Zeus as the progenitors of the Games. According to legend, it was Heracles who first called the Games “Olympic” and established the custom of holding them every four years. The myth continues that after Heracles completed his twelve labours, he built the Olympic Stadium as an honour to Zeus. Following its completion, he walked in a straight line for 200 steps and called this distance a “stadion” (Greek: στάδιον, Latin: stadium, “stage”), which later became a unit of distance. The most widely accepted inception date for the Ancient Olympics is 776 BC; this is based on inscriptions, found at Olympia, listing the winners of a footrace held every four years starting in 776 BC. The Ancient Games featured running events, a pentathlon (consisting of a jumping event, discus and javelin throws, a foot race, and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, pankration, and equestrian events. Tradition has it that Coroebus, a cook from the city of Elis, was the first Olympic champion.
The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance, featuring sporting events alongside ritual sacrifices honouring both Zeus (whose famous statue by Phidias stood in his temple at Olympia) and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia. Pelops was famous for his chariot race with King Oenomaus of Pisatis. The winners of the events were admired and immortalised in poems and statues. The Games were held every four years, and this period, known as an Olympiad, was used by Greeks as one of their units of time measurement. The Games were part of a cycle known as the Panhellenic Games, which included the Pythian Games, the Nemean Games, and the Isthmian Games.
The Olympic Games reached their zenith in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, but then gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece. While there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Games officially ended, the most commonly held date is 393 AD, when the emperor Theodosius I decreed that all pagan cults and practices be eliminated. Another date commonly cited is 426 AD, when his successor, Theodosius II, ordered the destruction of all Greek temples.
Various uses of the term “Olympic” to describe athletic events in the modern era have been documented since the 17th century. The first such event was the Cotswold Games or “Cotswold Olimpick Games”, an annual meeting near Chipping Campden, England, involving various sports. It was first organised by the lawyer Robert Dover between 1612 and 1642, with several later celebrations leading up to the present day. The British Olympic Association, in its bid for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, mentioned these games as “the first stirrings of Britain’s Olympic beginnings”.
L’Olympiade de la République, a national Olympic festival held annually from 1796 to 1798 in Revolutionary France also attempted to emulate the ancient Olympic Games. The competition included several disciplines from the ancient Greek Olympics. The 1796 Games also marked the introduction of the metric system into sport.
In 1850 an Olympian Class was started by William Penny Brookes at Much Wenlock, in Shropshire, England. In 1859, Brookes changed the name to the Wenlock Olympian Games. This annual sports festival continues to this day. The Wenlock Olympian Society was founded by Brookes on 15 November 1860.
Between 1862 and 1867, Liverpool held an annual Grand Olympic Festival. Devised by John Hulley and Charles Melly, these games were the first to be wholly amateur in nature and international in outlook, although only ‘gentlemen amateurs’ could compete. The programme of the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1896 was almost identical to that of the Liverpool Olympics. In 1865 Hulley, Brookes and E.G. Ravenstein founded the National Olympian Association in Liverpool, a forerunner of the British Olympic Association. Its articles of foundation provided the framework for the International Olympic Charter. In 1866, a national Olympic Games in Great Britain was organised at London’s Crystal Palace.
Greek interest in reviving the Olympic Games began with the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. It was first proposed by poet and newspaper editor Panagiotis Soutsos in his poem “Dialogue of the Dead“, published in 1833. Evangelos Zappas, a wealthy Greek-Romanian philanthropist, first wrote to King Otto of Greece, in 1856, offering to fund a permanent revival of the Olympic Games. Zappas sponsored the first Olympic Games in 1859, which was held in an Athens city square. Athletes participated from Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Zappas funded the restoration of the ancient Panathenaic Stadium so that it could host all future Olympic Games.
The stadium hosted Olympics in 1870 and 1875. Thirty thousand spectators attended that Games in 1870, though no official attendance records are available for the 1875 Games. In 1890, after attending the Olympian Games of the Wenlock Olympian Society, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was inspired to found the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Coubertin built on the ideas and work of Brookes and Zappas with the aim of establishing internationally rotating Olympic Games that would occur every four years. He presented these ideas during the first Olympic Congress of the newly created International Olympic Committee. This meeting was held from 16 to 23 June 1894, at the University of Paris. On the last day of the Congress, it was decided that the first Olympic Games to come under the auspices of the IOC would take place in Athens in 1896. The IOC elected the Greek writer Demetrius Vikelas as its first president.
The first Games held under the auspices of the IOC was hosted in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens in 1896. The Games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events. Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas had left the Greek government a trust to fund future Olympic Games. This trust was used to help finance the 1896 Games. George Averoff contributed generously for the refurbishment of the stadium in preparation for the Games. The Greek government also provided funding, which was expected to be recouped through the sale of tickets and from the sale of the first Olympic commemorative stamp set.
Greek officials and the public were enthusiastic about the experience of hosting an Olympic Games. This feeling was shared by many of the athletes, who even demanded that Athens be the permanent Olympic host city. The IOC intended for subsequent Games to be rotated to various host cities around the world. The second Olympics was held in Paris.
After the success of the 1896 Games, the Olympics entered a period of stagnation that threatened their survival. The Olympic Games held at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in 1904 were side shows. The Games in Paris did not have a stadium, but were notable for being the first time women took part in the Games. When the St. Louis Games were celebrated roughly 650 athletes participated, but 580 were from the United States. The homogeneous nature of these celebrations was a low point for the Olympic Movement. The Games rebounded when the 1906 Intercalated Games (so-called because they were the second Games held within the third Olympiad) were held in Athens. These Games were, but are not now, officially recognised by the IOC and no Intercalated Games have been held since. The Games attracted a broad international field of participants and generated great public interest. This marked the beginning of a rise in both the popularity and the size of the Olympics.
The Winter Olympics was created to feature snow and ice sports that were logistically impossible to hold during the Summer Games. Figure skating (in 1908 and 1920) and ice hockey (in 1920) were featured as Olympic events at the Summer Olympics. The IOC desired to expand this list of sports to encompass other winter activities. At the 1921 Olympic Congress in Lausanne, it was decided to hold a winter version of the Olympic Games. A winter sports week (it was actually 11 days) was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France, in connection with the Paris Games held three months later; this event became the first Winter Olympic Games. Although it was intended that the same country host both the Winter and Summer Games in a given year, this idea was quickly abandoned. The IOC mandated that the Winter Games be celebrated every four years on the same year as their summer counterpart. This tradition was upheld until the 1992 Games in Albertville, France; after that, beginning with the 1994 Games, the Winter Olympics were held every four years, two years after each Summer Olympics.
In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, determined to promote the rehabitation of soldiers after World War II, organised a multi-sport event between several hospitals to coincide with the 1948 London Olympics. Guttmann’s event, known then as the Stoke Mandeville Games, became an annual sports festival. Over the next twelve years, Guttmann and others continued their efforts to use sports as an avenue to healing. For the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Guttmann brought 400 athletes to compete in the “Parallel Olympics”, which became known as the first Paralympics. Since then, the Paralympics have been held in every Olympic year. Since the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, the host city for the Olympics has also played host to the Paralympics.[D] In 2001 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) signed an agreement guaranteeing that host cities would be contracted to manage both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The agreement came into effect at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, and the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Chairman of the London organising committee, Lord Coe, said about the 2012 Summer Paralympics and Olympics in London that,
We want to change public attitudes towards disability, celebrate the excellence of Paralympic sport and to enshrine from the very outset that the two Games are an integrated whole.
In 2010, the Olympic Games were complemented by the Youth Games, which give athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 the chance to compete. The Youth Olympic Games were conceived by IOC president Jacques Rogge in 2001 and approved during the 119th Congress of the IOC. The first Summer Youth Games were held in Singapore from 14–26 August 2010, while the inaugural Winter Games were hosted in Innsbruck, Austria, two years later. These Games will be shorter than the senior Games; the summer version will last twelve days, while the winter version will last nine days. The IOC allows 3,500 athletes and 875 officials to participate at the Summer Youth Games, and 970 athletes and 580 officials at the Winter Youth Games. The sports to be contested will coincide with those scheduled for the senior Games, however there will be variations on the sports including mixed NOC and mixed gender teams as well as a reduced number of disciplines and events.
From 241 participants representing 14 nations in 1896, the Games have grown to about 10,500 competitors from 204 nations at the 2012 Summer Olympics. The scope and scale of the Winter Olympics is smaller. For example, Sochi hosted 2,873 athletes from 88 nations competing in 98 events during the 2014 Winter Olympics. During the Games most athletes and officials are housed in the Olympic Village. This village is intended to be a self-contained home for all the Olympic participants, and is furnished with cafeterias, health clinics, and locations for religious expression.
The IOC allowed the formation of National Olympic Committees representing nations that did not meet the strict requirements for political sovereignty that other international organisations demand. As a result, colonies and dependencies are permitted to compete at Olympic Games. Examples of this include territories such as Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Hong Kong, all of which compete as separate nations despite being legally a part of another country. The current version of the Charter allows for the establishment of new National Olympic Committees to represent nations which qualify as “an independent State recognised by the international community”. Therefore, it did not allow the formation of National Olympic Committees for Sint Maarten and Curaçao when they gained the same constitutional status as Aruba in 2010, although the IOC had recognised the Aruban Olympic Committee in 1986. After 2012, Netherlands Antilles athletes can choose to represent either the Netherlands or Aruba.
The Olympic Movement uses symbols to represent the ideals embodied in the Olympic Charter. The Olympic symbol, better known as the Olympic rings, consists of five intertwined rings and represents the unity of the five inhabited continents (Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe). The coloured version of the rings—blue, yellow, black, green, and red—over a white field forms the Olympic flag. These colours were chosen because every nation had at least one of them on its national flag. The flag was adopted in 1914 but flown for the first time only at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. It has since been hoisted during each celebration of the Games.
The Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression meaning “Faster, Higher, Stronger” was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin in 1894 and has been official since 1924. The motto was coined by Coubertin’s friend, the Dominican priest Henri Didon OP, for a Paris youth gathering of 1891.
Coubertin’s Olympic ideals are expressed in the Olympic creed:
The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
Months before each Games, the Olympic Flame is lit in Olympia in a ceremony that reflects ancient Greek rituals. A female performer, acting as a priestess, ignites a torch by placing it inside a parabolic mirror which focuses the sun’s rays; she then lights the torch of the first relay bearer, thus initiating the Olympic torch relay that will carry the flame to the host city’s Olympic stadium, where it plays an important role in the opening ceremony. Though the flame has been an Olympic symbol since 1928, the torch relay was only introduced at the 1936 Summer Games to promote the Third Reich.
The Olympic mascot, an animal or human figure representing the cultural heritage of the host country, was introduced in 1968. It has played an important part of the Games’ identity promotion since the 1980 Summer Olympics, when the Russian bear cub Misha reached international stardom. The mascot of the Summer Olympics in London was named Wenlock after the town of Much Wenlock in Shropshire. Much Wenlock still hosts the Wenlock Olympian Games, which were an inspiration to Pierre de Coubertin for the Olympic Games.
The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games (French: Les XXIIIèmes Jeux olympiques d’hiver) and commonly known as PyeongChang 2018, is a major international multi-sport event scheduled to take place from 9 to 25 February 2018 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.
The elected host city was announced on 6 July 2011 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa. Pyeongchang won its bid on the first round of voting, receiving more votes than both Munich, Germany and Annecy, France combined.
These will be South Korea’s second Olympic Games and its first Winter Games; Seoul hosted the Summer Games in 1988. Pyeongchang will be the third Asian city to host the Winter Games; the first two were in Japan, at Sapporo (1972) and Nagano (1998).
Pyeongchang bid to host both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games but lost in the final rounds of voting, by three and four votes respectively. Pyeongchang won its bid for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in the first round of voting, receiving 63 of the 95 votes cast, giving it the majority required to be elected host city.
Munich also launched a bid to host these Games. Prior to Beijing‘s successful 2022 Winter Olympics bid, Munich would have become the first city to host both the Winter and the Summer Games, having previously hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics, but received 25 votes. Annecy (in southeastern France) launched a bid, but failed to secure public support from local citizens. Their bid received seven votes.
On 5 August 2011, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the formation of the Pyeongchang 2018 Coordination Commission. On 4 October 2011, it was announced that the Organizing Committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics would be headed by Kim Jin-sun. The Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) was launched at its inaugural assembly on 19 October 2011. The first tasks of the organizing committee were putting together a master plan for the games as well as forming a design for the venues. The IOC Coordination Commission for the 2018 Winter Olympics made their first visit to Pyeongchang in March 2012. By then, construction was already underway on the Olympic Village. In June 2012, construction began on a high-speed rail line that will connect Pyeongchang to Seoul.
The International Paralympic Committee met for an orientation with the Pyeongchang 2018 organizing committee in July 2012. Then-IOC President Jacques Rogge visited Pyeongchang for the first time in February 2013.
On 27 June 2014 the Pyeongchang Olympic Committee announced their mascot selection contest. The contest ran from 15 September 2014 to 30 September 2014. The 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Pyeongchang.
The Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games created Pyeongchang WINNERS in 2014 by recruiting university students living in South Korea to spread awareness of the Olympic Games through social networking services and news articles.
The torch relay started on 24 October 2017 in Greece and will end at the start of the Olympics on 9 February 2018. On 1 November 2017 the relay entered Korea. The relay will last 101 days. There will be 7,500 torch bearers to represent the 75 million population living in Korea. There will also be 2018 support runners. The support runners will guard the torch and be messengers.
The torch and its bearers will travel by a diverse means of transportation, including by turtle ship in Hansando Island, sailboat on the Baengmagang River in Buyeo, marine cable car in Yeosu, zip-wire over Bamseom Island, steam train in the Gokseong Train Village, marine rail bike along the east coast in Samcheok, and by yacht in Busan Metropolitan City. There will also be robot torch relays in Jeju and Daejeon.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will feature 102 events in 15 sports—making it the first Winter Olympics to surpass 100 medal events. Four new disciplines in existing sports were introduced to the Winter Olympic programme in Pyeongchang, including big air snowboarding, mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating, and mixed team alpine skiing.
For the first time since 1998, the National Hockey League will not provide accommodations (including a break in the season for all teams during the Olympics) to allow its players to participate in the men’s ice hockey tournament. The NHL’s decision stemmed from their demands that the IOC cover the cost of insuring the NHL players who participate in the Games. Although it did pay to insure NHL players in Sochi, the IOC was unwilling to do so for Pyeongchang, and was concerned that the NHL’s demand could set a precedent for other professional sports bodies to follow. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman added that a factor in the decision was that the IOC did not allow the NHL to promote the involvement of its players in the Olympics. The NHL secured the cooperation of the International Ice Hockey Federation and the IOC, who agreed to establish a blacklist forbidding national teams from nominating or accepting players under NHL contract to their Olympic rosters.
And this will be the time to Feature this great Sport Event to prove, that mankind is so much more…
This article is based on the Wikipedia entry “Olympic Games“, authors see here, and “2018 Winter Olympics“, authors see here. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.